Where I’ve been, what the world isn’t seeing.

It has been a long time since I’ve written an article on here. I’ve been busy trying to create a brand new organisation and yet again, totally underestimated how far behind the UK public health and innovation systems are compared to the rest of the world.

Also, since I wrote a major article on here last, I’ve taken to looking at the climate change problem. This was part of my work with Automedi, which I started at the beginning of 2020 to help plug the gap in PPE supplies with others in the 3D printing community. It grew legs to become an offering of its own.

The sad reality is that the healthcare service actually has one of the best intents to do the right thing that I have seen in UK public services. I have complained a lot about the inadequacy of the UK public service response to pretty much anything over the last 10 years. Every time I see a problem, the first thing that goes through my mind is “how are public services going to screw this up now?”. Whether that is our pandemic response or our climate response, the UK has become exceptionally good at doing exactly the wrong thing over the last 15 years or so. It is so predictable you can put bets on how badly it will go. Yet the prevalence of Dunning-Kruger runs so deep that it has as much propensity for life as the Dead Sea. Malice and incompetence is there wherever you look.

Academia = Plagiarism

Civil Service = Incompetence

Elected Reps = Dog Whistles

Charities = Politics

This leads to a counter-reaction in our society. Where many people disenfranchised by the traditional models rise-up and create opposing counter-narratives, with no solutions or at best solutions that are even worse than existing ones.

The climate movement is no different. With many dogmatically choosing solutions that are even worse than the status quo and crucially, propagating that disinformation to others. This even extends to disproven, debunked soft eco-fascist ideas like over-population. A movement particularly keenly believed by American climate activists because they are already closer to eco-fascism than much of the rest of the civilised world.

The world’s poorest are not responsible for dangerous emissions. If you got rid of the poorest 90% you wouldn’t reach the target of 60% lower emissions by 2030

Despite the health system having smart people in it, and the most energetic intent, much of the arrogance of above still exists in the choice of models to believe or the way the service procures. Upcoming changes to social value requirements dilute climate criteria out of existence. Making the commitments to Net Zero near pointless and unreachable. City Councils that have declared their intent to be the first cities to react Carbon neutrality, start by deciding to pretend that 70% of their emissions don’t exist, at the stroke of a pen. As if what everyone in a city buys teleports itself here and doesn’t arrive in a container ship. Chinese manufacturers wouldn’t send it to you if you didn’t buy it. That folly ably supported by some academics who really should know better.

So I look at the upcoming COP26 conference and see too much of the talk is well behind where it should be. Much is going backwards. Heaven help you if you happen to be the innovators the world needs, with the solutions that create the steepest descent to Net Zero. That delivers the greatest good. Woe betide you when you meet the “facemask recycling” evaluator that thinks people will somehow grow more heads to use more facemasks or that all materials will be replaced by the emperor’s new clothes.

The fact we have elected representatives who are this ignorant is one thing. The fact we have gatekeepers that are this ignorant is quite another. Because those gatekeepers will not be able to deliver benefits, only harm, with the thinking that got us into this in the first place.

As the saying goes, you cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it. Yet, here we are, giving millions to massive net positive projects that pump inordinate amounts of energy, but sequester no CO2.

Small direct air capture test bed (left) sucks CO2 out of the air. Trees and meadow flowers do that too. Glass versus plastic bottles (right)

That substitute glass instead of plastics and emits thousands of tonnes more CO2 in energy.

Danish Study results. UK Environment agency has the figure of 131 times for organic cotton for climate impact alone.

That choose cotton totes over plastics bags, unaware that it is 131 times worse at best because:

Context
Is
Everything

The frightening thing is I see this even in healthcare. There are doctors who cite demonstrably false and even disproven positions as if they were fact. In trusted positions, that rightly advocate position to save the oceans, but do so in a way that burns the land.

I see analysts who project forward using averages, when it’s well known that chaotic, non-linear systems do not follow an average path anywhere. Yet, you cannot convince these people because they lack the necessary mathematical skill to understand why, but assume their historical intellect is a predictor of how they’ll behave in every other context. This is dangerous, anti-systemic ignorance that will do for everyone.

Yet, as bad as they are, you can convince even less of the people who aren’t medically trained or are caught working in gatekeeping roles like procurement or innovation evaluation. They run around like headless chickens as the sky falls down wondering how to buy for trauma, or buy for pathology, to buy for facilities. Silo after silo after silo, wrong after wrong after wrong.

The problem is the silo! Because the climate is not one! It’s your head where the problem lies. Yet they persist. Even ignoring the people involved in creating the measures the UN used in the first place because it doesn’t fit the face they expect or isn’t an intuitive enough methodology. They would rather ignore it and settle for what they can measure. Using something simple but wrong, presented by a traditional face they trust most. Ideally, theirs.

Well, I have news for you. Solving climate change is hard! Even worse, to truly understand the problem in the first place, is harder than many have the capacity to understand! It isn’t about the plastics in the ocean, or the carbon in the air or the plastic bags or the number of cars. It’s about the cause and effects of plastics in the ocean AND the carbon in the air AND the plastic bags AND the number of cars in aggregate of them and their interplay. A resonance of individual effects that are all manifest symptoms of over-consumption. There is no scenario in which overconsumption is not implicated in all of these. There is also no other scenario where any other perceived cause covers all of these symptoms.

Think about that. If you are in medicine and you have a diagnosis that covers all the symptom cluster, why would you choose the other one which only covers half?

I have seen too many transformation programmes in my 30 years in industry. The symptoms of the cohort not knowing what to do are exactly the same. You can even smell what’ll happen next. Reject the ones who are rights, turn to them when they’ve exhausted everything, it’s too late and you need a scapegoat. This is exactly the same and so the outcome will be. The bus is going to fall off the cliff and you won’t stop it but will need a scapegoat, so will ask the person you should have asked in the first place. We’ve seen it all before.

For the rest of us, perhaps it’s time to move to thinking about adaptation. Because the actors we have and the governments we have, will ruin it.

Needless to say, I’m sceptical about what COP26 will achieve. The wrong people have the stage now. Let’s hope there won’t be a time to watch it burn.

EA, Stats, Math & Code into a fizz of a biz or two. Founder: Automedi & Axelisys. Proud Manc. Citizen of the World. I’ve been busy